Once upon a time, male grooming was the preserve of narcissists: those few of us who might have accidentally fallen into a pond attempting to snog our own reflections. Such as Derek Zoolander. Now, it’s the norm for men to use “product” in our hair, moisturise our faces and know what the hell “serum” is. Blame it on the constant sense of living under social media surveillance and the need to be ever Instagram-ready. Last week, the Financial Times estimated the male grooming industry would be worth £1bn annually by 2018. With figures like this in mind, companies have done the inevitable and brought out male-groom subscription boxes.
A few years ago, companies such as FreshNeck, Henry J Socks and Beer52 took the idea of “dads who like things in shoe boxes” and ran with it, offering subscription services for ties, socks and beer. Now, with Father’s Day around the corner (19 June: remember?), beauty companies like Luxury Barber Box, Harry’s and Birchbox are offering US customers a similar subscription model for products such as face-washes, colognes and hair gels.
Those of us still struggling to make the transition from Lynx Africa to Lynx Dark Temptation, might not understand whom these products are for. “The modern man whose schedule doesn’t allow for shopping,” says David Gandy’s stylist, Joe Ottaway, who’s launching his own monthly Style Box as part of a bespoke personal grooming service (£150 for a 12-box subscription for a year). “In my mind, he is very time-poor, doesn’t work nine to five, works nine to nine, and doesn’t have the hours to dedicate to his grooming schedule.”
Dan Rookwood, US editor of Mr Porter and the mastermind behind its own one-shot box, the Travel Grooming Kit (£75), says the bento style of beauty products speaks to the functional alpha in all of us. “Men want something functional that does what it says it’s going to do, such as reduce dark circles under the eyes, or freshen breath or thicken hair.”
Does Ottaway think this modern man will feel just as comfortable using moisturisers as they will products such as the scary-sounding PerriconeMD’s Cold Plasma gel (described as “an elixir” to combat wrinkles), featured in the Mr Porter kit? “Well, I think guys like a product that has very masculine marketing around it.”
Rookwood says. “They want something with packaging that conveys status. “They want something that will look good, whether it’s being examined by airport security, the guy at the sink in the gym changing room, or a nosy guest who is snooping around your bathroom.” Maybe we need to re-think our gifts for dear old dad.
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